The need to assess individual defensive responsibility is ever-growing. Now more than ever it’s paramount to identify the proverbial weak link. Steals, blocks, and turn-overs simply aren’t enough to satisfy a ravishing basketball community hungry for vital data. Vegas-heads, The NBA, and its fans crave information that will validate the value and hierarchy of a player.
The team at Five Thirty-Eight have taken the opponents shooting data and flipped it on its head. They have created a new metric tailored towards a direct measurement of defensive reliability. Aptly named DRAYMOND (Defensive, Rating, Accounting for, Yielding, Minimal, Openness by, Nearest, Defender) this stat determines a defenders ability to minimize open shots. Essentially creating a more improved way to measure NBA defense.
These new figures are encouraging for the Mavericks and can validate a few of their off-season signings.
In previous years the advanced stat Real Plus-Minus determined a club’s defensive juggernaut. The metric typically flows with the players’ defensive reputation. The better the defender the better their RPM and visa Versa. The Mavericks were not represented in this year’s RPM Top-40, however, the 2017-18 season saw Kristaps Porzingis place 39th having only participated in 48 games. Dispelling the notion of a fluke the former All-Star is ranked third among players tracked since the 2013-14 season in the newly formulated DRAYMOND benchmark.
Kristaps only trails the stats namesake and Joel Embiid in DRAYMOND. Adding worth to this list are the heavy hitters at the top. A top-five rounded out by Rudy Gobert and Tim Duncan is nothing to laugh at especially defensively. Any initial skepticism can be halted by the appearance of Hall-Of-Famers and Defensive Players of the Year.
This is welcomed news to a Mavericks squad in desperate need of a defensive identity. Last season the Mavs finished 16th in opponent effective field goal percentage (.522%). Although far from championship-worthy these new metrics give Rick Carlisle data necessary to tweak the roster with more clarity.
Driving this point home is Maxi Kleber’s stature on the best DRAYMOND defenders of the 2018-19 season. The back up big-man finished the season ranked 5th among players tracked.
Outlining Maxi’s effectiveness is Draymond Green’s noticeable absence from the top 10. According to this barometer, Kleber was the better defender last season. Green completed the year with a rating of +1.76 while Maxi finished with a strong +2.94 rating. These numbers suggest a pay raise was necessary. The steady rising trajectory of Kleber’s career is directly reflected in this new stat however anointing Kleber the better defender is misconstrued.
Although they have polar opposite career paths the comparison is futile when only considering their career accomplishments. These two undoubtedly share similar roles with their respective clubs. Even though Kleber is predominantly deployed from the bench he is also tasked with guarding multiple positions, anchoring the teams defensively, and contesting EVERYTHING! An 11th place finish in last season block percentage only bolsters the comparison.
These shared duties will be essential to Maxi’s success in moving forward. They basically earned him a new deal. Green is clearly the better player but the margin could be shrinking. Kleber’s new contract is enough evidence to suggest the Mavs front office is counting on his projected improvement.
Notable Mavericks on the 2018-19 best DRAYMOND defenders list:
Dorian Finney-Smith: +1.31
Dwight Powell: +1.10
Seth Curry: +1.03
Delon Wright: +0.43
This metric is aimed at highlighting the best defenders in the league. Spotlighting players ability to deter shooting percentages. Proving the more things change the more they remain the same. Many times offense can be simplified to basic makes or misses. This latest statistic does the same by quantifying multiple figures. Hydrating a figuratively dehydrated NBA community thirsty for the next upper hand.
Stats: www.fivethirtyeight.com, www.ESPN.com, www.basketball-reference.com
Featured Image: www.mavs.com